An ongoing global issue of underpay of workers is highlighted in particular in the Western Cape of South Africa. Farm workers are joining strikes demanding a pay raise for their long, arduous hours of work. This occurrence is seen in the wine and fruit producing province of the Western Cape, especially De Dooms. The minimum daily wage is currently 7.80 U.S dollars and workers are asking for the equivalent of 17.00 U.S dollars a day. That isn’t unreasonable considering most work 12 hours days, seven days a week.
Inflation rates are sky rocketing and leaving the majority of citizens in the highest affected town of De Dooms, left taking out unsecured loans. The University of South Africa’s Bureau of Market Research shares “expenditure was 21.4% higher than incomes.” A report, Ripe for Abuse, states that these workers are a critical part of the success of the fruit, wine and tourist industries but they aren’t benefiting monetarily and are still subjected to exploitative conditions. Governmental change has been ignored. What can be done to change this issue? There are some businesses that recognize their employees, such as Western Cape’s Bosman Family Vineyards, who provides housing on the estates, daycare for employee’s children, and education for the children.
Source: “South Africa: Western Cape farmworkers join strikes,” IRIN Africa, November 16, 2012. http://www.irinnews.org/Report/96805/SOUTH-AFRICA-Western-Cape-farmworkers-join-strikes
Student Researcher: Alison Clarke, Sonoma State University.
Faculty Evaluator: Suzel Bozada-Deas, Sonoma State University.